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Information about the Mikhoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat

MiG-25 Foxbat

Born in the dark age of the Cold War, the fearsome Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG25 Foxbat was officially designated as the russian answer to America's new generation fighter for the Air Force, the Boeing F-15 Eagle.
But unknown to the public opinion, MiG-25's mission was actually a lot diffrent. Anybody with a piece of knowledge in the domanin of military aviation might wonder why the russians produced a very-high speed high- altitude fighter with low-maneuverability and almoust no dogfighting capability (so unfamiliar compared to the other generations that were born at MiG) in order to counteract a very manoeuvrable powerful air-air and air-ground fighter with huge dogfighting capabilities and armed with the latest top of the line radar, communications and weapon technology and also with advanced airodynamics.

The answer is that the MiG-25 was built with one purpose in mind: shooting down one of the most notorious, powerful, advanced and also secret aircraft ever developed: the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
The SR-71 Blackbird was the secret aircraft that CIA has ordered in the late 1950s to spy over the Soviet theritorry. When in 1959 the US Congress approved the project, the world's most famous (today) aviation design team got the go-ahead to create one of the top 10 machines that man-kind has created this century. The Skunk Works design team is a special division inside the Lockheed Martin Corporation which designs, developes and builds top secret super-advanced aironautical masterpieces, all under total denyability. Such aircraft are called Black Aircraft and their programs are also Black. In case of exposal, the US government or any authorities around the world implicated one way or another in the program would not under any circumstances recognize anything related to the program, not even it's existence and not even after serious proof was presented to the public opinion. Being an employee in a Black program means that either you don't exist in any valid documents or whatsoever, either you do NOT work in there. In case you die, nobody will even admit the fact that you are dead, because you just don't exist.
Being a pilot on a black aircraft means that death could come anytime, anywhere, and nobody will ever know, except the proper authorities.
As this is obviously a huge advantage for developing secret weapons, it becomes a huge disadvantage when one of your aircraft was shut down. The US could not retaliate officially, due to the fact that if the aircraft and the pilot DO NOT exist, who crashed then ?
Relying on these facts, the Soviets knew that they could shut down an american black spy-plane, and the public opinion around the world will never know unless the russians themselves want to, due to the secrecy surrounding the program. So they thought at developing an aircraft, who could basically get up in the air in a short time, catch-up with the SR-71 and shoot it down with missiles.
Easier to said than done...

So in the early 1960s, they initialized the MiG-25's developing. The russians have the bad habbit of copying anything they can find from other countries (especially technologically-advanced countries and the U.S. in particullary) and then develop a better version of that product, calling it a "russian product". That's just the case in some major parts of the MiG25.
As another project ("white" this time) to create a supersonic high-altitude long-range bomber which could pierce the russian defenses and bomb in the heart of the USSR was undergoing in the late 1950s, the russians of course did intense industrial espionage in order to obtain data about the new american bomber, so that they could produce an upgraded version in the near future for themselves. The bomber in discussion here was the notorious AJ Vigilante.
The Vigilante was a very advanced project for its time, and as most of the things that camed before their time (eg. aircraft, computers, electrycity, the idea that the earth is round, etc) it had many difficulties in convincing the authorities that it's the best to do this impossible new task, to fly supersonically without escale straight into the heart of the Soviet Union, bomb it (even with nuclear weapons) and come back in one piece. After fearce fighting in the government for deciding who will build the plane, how it should look like and after other hot disputes in the congress, the US congress finally approves the plane, so in the early-50s the Vigilante was already on the drawing boards and soon after, under testing in the US testing ranges from around the country. Of course, the KGB got its part in it, and it is known today that KGB agents infiltrated very easily inside the testing ranges and even inside the hangars and on the runways in order to look at the airoplane, to gather data about its design, and most importantly, to photograph it, as the project had a very low security at the time.
But later the KGB found it impossible to penetrate the new security covering the project, due to the fact that the Vigilante had becomed a national priority in the mean time, and that it was protected from public eye. So all that the KGB agents got were a lot of pictures and a lot of data about the design of the aircraft and the airodynamics. Of course, a similar project was going on in the Soviet Union to create a supersonic long range jet bomber, and of course that they both looked the same. You can't copy a thing and then put it side-by-side with the original and see that they look compleetly diffrent.

But the Vigilante was cancelled in the US a few years later, founded to be "too expensive and too on the edge for the job", as other projects will be found yrs later, like the TSR-2 or, closer to that time, YF-2Y1 Seadart.
So all that the russians had right now was a design and a lot of airodynamic data. Now they had to develop the engines on their own.
And so they did, and years later, the project designated MiG25 in the Soviet Union got out of the drawing boards and into the testing ranges of USSR, like the Zhukowsky Flight Center, nowadays revealed to public opinion after the end of the Cold War. Here the new MiG was found to be an excellent interceptor with amazing performances: it could reach high-altitudes unreached before by a russian fighter; altitudes like 20 000 m were usual operating ground for the MiG-25. It was also fit with primitive russian computers and electronics in order to help it pursue its designated pray, the SR-71.
But the most important advantage of all, the very-one for which it was truly built, was speed. The MiG-25 reached on afterburners an amazing speed of 3800km/h, or Mach 3.2, which is 3.2 times faster than the speed of sound. This was the only aircraft in the world which could get a shot at the SR-71.
But all russian projects look great on paper; the fact is that at a closer look, they all reveal huge deficits and very low-points, things for which they would never had been approved in the West.
This was the case of the MiG-25 too.
- Yes, it had a huge service altitude ;
- Yes, it had primitive russian computers, installed on no other russian aircraft of the day, in order to detect, pursue and kill the SR-71 ;
- and Yes, it had an absolutely amazing speed, but this is where the catch was with the MiG-25. The speed.

The MiG-25 Foxbat could cruise on afterburners at Mach 3.2 at an altitude of 20000m or higher, but the catch was that after each supersonic flight, and after a certain nombers of only subsonic short-flights, the engines must be entirely replaced or they would tear appart in the next flights. Now this seems very primitive (it is), very bad (it is) and very very expensive (it really is). Replacing one aircraft's engines after each supersonic flight (which for it was designed, i mean there's no sense of flying the MiG-25 subsonically in persueting an SR-71 or whatever, that could also be done by a more agile MiG-21, but it obviously doesn't work) means that huge sums of money are being spent only for its most basic maintainence. Having a fleet of only 24 MiG-25s and using them as often as one of the 6 SR-71s of the enemy's are flying above would bring it to a cost of more than one billion dollars/year only the engine replacements (that's only if the SR-71s fly about 2 times/month) and not a scrap cent for other maintainings. Having the fleet of only 6 SR-71s on the other hand costs only 350 million dollars/years and it assures your government that it can have any area of this planet compleetly scanned, photographed, filmed in various rays of light and radiation and optically analysed at a push of a button without the risk of your SR-71 being shut down, as an SR-71 was never shut down in mission nor crashed. Now, as a -let's say- defense secretary of your industrialized country, which aircraft would you choose ?
It's these major disadvantages that turned the fearsome MiG-25 Foxbat into an aircraft that sits in the hangar all year today in all the countries that are using it. Flying it is simply so expensive that not one country in the world could afford in report with the benefits that it might bring.
However, the MiG-25 Foxbat was one russian achievement of the time, but here, as well as in many other cases, Russia's dependendance of external technology was obvious. The russians can only copy a foreign aircraft or product of any kind and improove it afterwards, so creating a superior product. When they're put to do something on their own, as they were in this case on creating the MiG-25's engines on their own, they fail to find the best sollutions.
Other examples of russian copying and "upgrading" are the Sukhoi aircraft, the MiGs, the Stealth warships, the nuclear submarines, radar, etc.
For ex: the Su27 was being developed in the late 1970s in order to counteract the F-15 Eagle. Instead, even if the Su27 appeared on the stage in 1986, and the first one landed on a steam-catapoult carrier in the 1st of november 1989, the Su-27 Flanker is widely inferior to its american counterpart, the F-15. If i would have to choose between those two, i would defenetly go for the F-15. Many people would do the other thing, and go for the Sukhoi. Well, sure, the Sukhoi has more performances on paper than the F-15 (the classical russian mambo-jambo), but just by doing a simple calculation we get to these results: an F-15 costs around 35 million dollars. A Su27 costs about that much, let's say also 35 million. Now, if we want the Sukhoi to be as advanced and to be able to carry the same weapons as the F-15 (totally superior), we would have to invest another at least 5 million in the Sukhoi, just to make it equal to the F-15. So now the Su27 costs 40 million dollars. But then comes an Block 50 F-16C on the cost of only 18 million dollars, which is better, more agile, has a range of almoust 3 times the one of the Su-27, a higher acceleration, more advanced airodynamics, simplified and cheaper maintainence and its even more advanced than the Su-27 after we invested in it the 5 millions for technology. So we got an 18 million dollars fighter much much greater than a 40 million dollars one.
Now, which one would you choose ?

Of course, the Sukhoi has a payload of 8000kg while the F-16 has a payload of only 4400kg, but believe me, it carries anything it needs in there, while the Sukhoi has to carry a lot of huge external fuel tanks in order to get closer to the F-16's range without external fuel tanks. So you see, after all, it all comes to a conclusion: The F-16 is better than the Su27, even the F-15 might be better in a great majority of domains.
The most industrialized and technologically advanced countries in the world all buy american aircraft, and did you ever thought of this as maybe they're doing this for a certain reason, not the US' influence on the other democratical countries ? US' influence in zero when it comes to vital things, so reflected by the refuse of just buying american aircraft and by developing their own of countries like France, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweeden, even Argentina, Brazil and Canada. Altough this doesn't changes the old fashion way in which american aircraft are massively bught by the countries mentioned above except France, UK and Sweeden, this shows that western countries are until one point independently from what seems to the easterners as their ruler: the US.
Getting back to the MiG-25, its tactic was made after this scenario: the SR-71 Blackbird would come towards the Soviet borders "running" at Mach 3.35 at an altitude of over 25 000m. The russian radars would detect the plane, and then they would guide MiG-25 interceptors towards the incoming SR-71. With the help of russian computers both inside the MiG-25 and on the ground, the MiG-25 Foxbat would then get on its maximum speed of Mach 3.2, ascend at an altitude of 20 000m (thing which would get it a few miles or tens of nm in the back of the Blackbird) and shoot missiles at the SR-71. The tactic was perfect, only that the russian computers were so primitive that they failed in simple algebra operations, in communicating with the radar networks and in transciving/receiving data sent by the radars or the planes. The result was that after countless secret missions, the SR-71 was never shut down by a MiG25 in more than 3 decades of activity. Actually, there were more than 1,000 certified, documented and registered incidents in which the SR-71 Blackbird was fired upon, but no aircraft was ever shut down. Another proove that not even the latest russian SAMs and/or interceptors could score a hit on the SR-71.
These facts were also compleeted with the help of a russian air force colonel which defected with its entire aircraft and weaponry aboard to Japan in the 1970s. After he surrended his plane and agreed to tell the West everything he knew or suspected about the MiG25, he was asked why did he defected from the Soviet Union with his entire aircraft. He declared:
The reason of my defection is the SR-71 Blackbird. In the Soviet Union, he said, they say to us that the american and western society stinks, but when I saw the SR-71 Blackbird, I wondered how on Earth such a stinking society could make such an great airplane. So I defected."
After that he said that the MIG25 Foxbat's engines can not run forever, and that after short periods of time they must be replaced, helping the american hystorians and military analists to calculate some facts in the history of these two airoplanes and to compleete their data about the secret missions flown by both the American and the Soviet pilots.

The MiG25 is still in service today in countries of the former Soviet block, even if they didn't flew them since years.

MiG-25 Foxbat

MiG-25 Foxbat

MiG25 Foxbat
Year of production: 1978
Crew: 1

Wing Span: 13.95m | Wing Area: 56.83 sq. m
Length: 23.82m | Height: 6.10m

Empty Weight: 20,000 kg | Max. Weight: 36,200 kg

Engines and thrust:
2*12250kg Tumanski R-31

Maximum speed:
Mach 3.2 (3800 km/h)
24,400 m
1,730 km

Models known:
MiG25A (designated Foxbat A), MiG25R (designated Foxbat B), MiG25C Foxbat

Very feared in the cold war, you can see now the MiG25 with the landing gear down. You can also observe how big its nossels really are.


MiG-25 Foxbat

This was the USSR's answer to the design in the US of fast, high- flying aircraft as the B-70, F-108 and SR-71. The MiG-25 lacked technological refinement, but its performance caused much concern in the west. It was also used as a reconaissance aircraft, which in the Middle-East proved invulnerable to the Israeli F-4 Phantom IIs. Over 1200 have been built, of which about 75% were interceptors.